Stuff on My Wall, Final Post

I love art!  Art (all types) speaks to the soul in a way that nothing else can.  It moves the heart to understanding of God that cannot be compared to a lecture or sermon.  Because I believe this, I surround myself with works of art.  So on this back wall I have some great works I’d like to share. 
back wall

 

Lion2

The first one is the Lion overlooking the world.  I painted this a few years ago.  My wife and I have a favorite book: Safely Home, by randy Alcorn.  It is a fiction story about the last Christian martyr in China.  In the midst of the book there is a description of a statue of a Lion with his paw on top of the globe.  Alcorn describes the lion as tender yet fierce.  The lion holds a balance of strength and meekness, between grace and near reckless ferocity, between fury and patience.  Alcorn describes the lion as standing over the Earth with a look of power and justice.  I tried to capture that in this lion.  I keep it on the wall so that I can be reminded of Our Lord, the Lion of Judah.  He is not tame!

waterfall

Second, the picture of the waterfall (sorry for the reflection of my desk in the photo).  I was given this picture by a former coworker from back when I worked retail.  Written in the bottom right of the frame is “John 4:14.”  In John 4:14 Jesus says, “…but whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  This artwork is a black and white photo of a waterfall coming out of the rocks!  Hopefully your picking up on the symbolism from the Old Testament.  If you’re not, read Exodus 14 and following… that will get you started.

Safely home

Third is a picture from Safely Home.  In this picture Jesus clutches the last martyr to his chest.  The martyr is holding some crowns in his right hand and is slumped over in the chest of Jesus as if to illustrate complete and total comfort from the exhausting work on his heart.  An angel stands in the back with the martyr’s white robe held out as if presenting it.  I love this picture because Jesus is not sitting on the thrown.  He has leapt off the throne and grabbed the martyr, clutching him close, obviously before the martyr could even complete his bow.  To the right on the floor lay the chains that once bound the martyr on earth.  They are cast off to the side.  This is the image of Jesus meeting his children in heaven!  He does not remain on the throne, He is so excited to see His brother, He runs to hold the servant close.  This is a picture drawn from the character of God found in the Gospel Parables.  It is beautiful and I am excited to see my King in person one day.  “At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, in Heaven and on Earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!” –Philippians 2:10-11

Power of One

Finally, one of my favorite stories is pictured below on the shelf.  “The Power of One!”  In this world of racial discrimination and humanity wickedly oppressing other members of humanity, there are few stories as powerful and horrifying as the oppression of the Zulu people in South Africa.  Apartheid is one of the greatest blights on human history.  In The Power of One, a young white man grows up to teach reading and writing to the Zulu people who are socially, economically, and physically oppressed.  The Zulu people were not able to receive education and therefore were enslaved to a system the relegated them to poverty and death.  The young man works hard to liberate a people who are oppressed and this is that story.  This book inspires me to work hard for justice!  We are to be agents of righteousness in this world.  And, where there is injustice, we must work hard to be the justice and fight for justice for the sake of the Gospel.   If you don’t like to read, there is a fantastic movie version with Morgan Freeman!  Warning, it is graphic, rated R, and has violence and language in it.

Don’t worry, this is the last post of “stuff on my walls.”  We’ll get back to more serious things soon.  What do you have on your walls and why?

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Stuff on my office wall, pt. 2

There are lots of things on my wall in my office.  Today I’d like to show you my corner. better corner

prayer corner

This corner is where my computer is located and it is where I answer e-mails and such.  You’ll note the infamous prayer wall.  I keep pictures of graduated students.  Each morning when I start my day I pray for the faces by name.  Each of these students has touched my life in a special way and I invest time each morning in

praying for their growth.  Now, before you go looking for your picture, some pictures overlap others and are difficult to see.  But I know they are there.  I pray for these students with earnest expectation that they would be missionaries to a dark world.  I had the privilege of training them for a while and now I get to watch them work.

picsofjohn

Next there is a ton of Art Work.  Some by me some by others.  Anytime a student gives me a picture that they drew of me it goes here…  just behind  my computer.  Most of them are funny, so I get an opportunity to laugh at myself.

Students will occasionally take to heart something I teach them and give me a piece of art as a memento.  I especially love these gifts!  They tell me that students are listening and learning, even if it is often just simple artwork.    The other artworks that are in the corner shot I did.  I love to express myself through artwork and I try to incorporate that into teaching, event planning, logo design, etc…  You’ll also note the papers that have all kinds of things on them to remember.  Phone numbers, Scripture passages, sermon notes, etc.

outofthemoutbennedictineprayerlion

The last thing I’d like to share with you is this portion above my computer. (pictured below) There is a picture from my wedding of my two brothers, my best friend, and myself.  Underneath that is an encouraging note I received when I first started at FBC Brazoria. (seriously I keep all of them.)  To the right is a picture of my gorgeous wife!  Just below that is a picture of the high school guys in my first youth group.  Then you have a picture of the great missionary Jeremy Parks and his family, I pray for them often down there in Quito.  A picture of Ally-Bird, a former youth who like a family member to me.  In the center is a drawing by my nephew Jackson!  He’s the coolest kid in the world and I love when he draws stuff for me.  I keep some encouraging notes and pictures above my computer.  Again, I’m not going to bore you as to why these are there, but I thought it would be fun.

close up of above computer

So what do you keep on your walls and why? post a comment and let me know.

Stuff on my office wall, part 1

The things that someone surrounds themself with can provide great insight into the character and personality of that person.  If someone surrounds themselves with golden trophies of former athletic achievements, then that tells you that they value their former athletic prowess.  If someone surrounds themselves with pictures of family, then they value family.  If someone surrounds themselves with mementoes from trips then they probably value their travel experiences.  Well, I was doing some introspection the other day and was looking around my office.  I won’t bore you with my own critical analysis of my character.  But I thought I’d share some of the things on my walls… because I think they’re cool

Painting by Greg Olsen
Painting by Greg Olsen

First, a painting by Greg Olsen sits directly over my desk.  This is my favorite painting.  It is a painting of Matthew 23 when Jesus Laments over Jerusalem.  He sits on a hill and overlooks the capital city of the people of God and proclaims, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem…”  You can imagine a tear falling down his face as he sits down in exasperation.  He weeps for His people.  This is the way I feel about the church in America.  My wife bought it for me when we were in our second year of marriage.  It serves as a reminder of my calling in ministry.  Within the painting is the reminder of my responsibility to my family.  I love my family and surround my calling around constant imagery of my life with them.

(You can find Greg Olsen’s print here: http://www.gregolsen.com/o-jerusalem-9652)

Prayinghands

Second, this is a wood carving that my wife’s Grand Father (Papa) did.  It sits above the calling.  It is probably one of the coolest art works in my office.  Papa is one of the most servant hearted men I have ever met.  He loves people with a love that I often cannot comprehend and he is the most patient man I have ever known.  On top of that, he can do almost anything.  Electrical problems, home structural problems, leadership issues, car problems, engine issues, weed eaters, plumbing, anything!  Papa can do almost everything and this piece of art is a constant reminder to me that Papa’s most admirable and endearing character trait is his constant connection to the Lord.  Likewise, I need to cultivate a lifestyle of prayer and dependence on God and my connection with Him.

happyBDay

This third one may seem silly to some of you.  But I keep a small poster that was made for me on my Birthday by the staff at the church.  However, recognition in church work is uncommon and personal  anniversaries are almost never acknowledged.  So I keep almost all of them when I get them.  This one was on my wall and I left it there because it means a lot to me to know that others think about things like that.

DadThis is a picture of my Dad.  My dad was a great man and I keep this to remind myself of who I am, where I came from, and who I want to be.

Jesus and Gossip

jesusandpeterDid you ever notice, Jesus never talks to the disciples about the other disciples?  There is one incident of Jesus answering a question about another disciple and he answers in front of everyone (that is, Judas at the last supper: John 13:21-30).  But you never see Jesus going to Matthew and saying, “Man…  Peter is such a dolt!” Jesus never goes to John and says, “I’m really concerned about Thomas, did you know he blah blah blah.”  Jesus never looks at James and says, “so… your brother? How’s he doing?”  Jesus never participates in gossip, he never gossips, and he never invites gossip.  On the contrary, when the Lord is asked to gossip He answers very clearly (John 21:21-22).  So, I think we can learn something of how to handle people tempting us to gossip as well as our own wicked tendencies toward gossip.

First, Jesus points people to the work at hand.  When the Peter asks Jesus about the disciple whom Jesus loved in John 21:22, Jesus responds, “if it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?  You follow ME!”  When someone tries to drag you into gossip, you point them to work!  Apparently Jesus knew something about us.  If we are busy working and are focused on the goal, then we don’t have time or interest in gossip.  Gossip is a bored man’s sin.

Second, Jesus points people to eternity.  In Matthew 10 when Jesus is asked by James and John if they can sit at his right and left, the other disciples start to complain about them.  Jesus quickly answers by calling them all over and talking about the structure of authority in Heaven.  He points them to Heavenly principles to quell the gossip.

Third, Jesus points people to humility.  In the above story, Jesus admonishes the disciples that they must serve in order to be great.  It is here we see that in our humiliation we are exalted by God.

Ephesians 5 says we are to be “imitators of God.”  Therefore, it is necessary that we strive to imitate Christ.  So get to work and focus on eternity.

Some Thoughts on Withstanding Gossip

Pastors are often victims of gossip. I guess people don’t really know who to go when they need to talk about the pastor? Or maybe we’re just jerks and deserve what we get? Either way we grow a pretty thick skin as a result, but we don’t start that way. For a long time I would lash back at people when they gossiped. I’d preach an angry sermon, or I’d chide the entire group for something small. That was wrong and I frequently ask forgiveness when I get the opportunity. It took me a long time to learn how I needed to deal with rumors and gossip. It took me a long time to see past my own hurt and recognize the deeper need for redemption of the gossiper. It took me a long time to see past myself. So, now I want to share some simple guidelines I try really hard to live by, though I often fail.

    1. Pray and Fast more than you talk.
    2. Don’t worry too much about what people think about you… they are far too busy thinking about themselves to worry about you. Most people are not thinking about you when you are not around. We are far too self-centered for that. You are not chief in their thoughts… they are chief in their thoughts.
    3. Address false rumors immediately with the root source of the rumor. In other words call the person responsible for starting the rumor and clear it up right away. If you cannot find the root source, then trust God to deal with it. If the rumor does not involve you, stop the person from telling you and ignore it.
    4. Fight rumors with prayer and transparency. God defends His church, of which you are apart (I Cor. 3:16-17). Therefore, God will protect you through false accusation. As for transparency, if everyone sees what you do, then no one can accurately say something false against you. Romans 12:14-21. DO NOT GET INVOLVED BY GOSSIPING BACK OR CORRECTING THE RUMOR WITH A SECOND OR THIRD PARTY! AND DO NOT TRY TO MANIPULATE YOUR WAY AROUND GOSSIP. Honesty is the best policy. Pray hard and be honest.
    5. Love those who gossip about you. Romans 12:20, you will heap burning coals on their heads and they will be brought to repentance.
    6. Work hard for the Gospel! I find that if you are busy about the Lord’s work, you won’t be too worried about what people say.
    7. Remember Heaven! All things will be laid bare in Heaven. There is nothing on this earth that will compare to the glory of Heaven. Further, you will give an account for what you have done on earth… You should fear God more than a rumor.
    8. Shoot the horse when you have to. If a brother or sister in Christ is gossiping to the point where they are harming themselves, then you have to shoot the horse. Go to that brother or sister and confront the sin, tell them you love them and that this is unacceptable. If they refuse to admit wrong, start Matthew 18 discipline. Remember gossip hurts those who participate in it, not those who live above it. If you are living above it, your primary concern is for their well-being and your goal will not be to defend yourself, but to lift them up. If it is not, you probably ought to pray and fast a bit more.

20. don’t keep count of wrongs… Jesus doesn’t do it to you, don’t do it to others.

Heretics, by GK Chesterton

Image

Chesterton’s satirical commentary on modern heretics is a masterful work of philosophy.  In this work Chesterton analyzes Kipling, Shaw, McCabe, America, and a vast number of other characters philosophy.  Chesterton has a masterful ability of turning everything on its head.  When Chesterton explains orthodoxy, all common definitions are thrown out in favor of Chesterton’s own definitions.  He explains that the man in the mad-house is the only one who is actualized.  The man who is outside of the madhouse does not truly understand his own insanity.  So Chesterton begins his attack on all things orthodox. 

 

Chesterton’s handling of Shaw and Kipling is perhaps the best analytical debate on the subject of the two atheistic philosophies.  Chesterton deftly explains that these two men should not be taken seriously and that their efforts are faulty at best.  He further addresses critics who charge him to approach life in a more serious tone by asserting that serious tone does not validate or invalidate one’s own arguments and that serious things are often better explained in cynical and humorous tones. 

 

Of particular merit in the work is Chesterton’s constant and unique analysis of the human experience.  Chapters 14-16 are vastly entertaining and challenging.  Chesterton explains what it is about humanity that denies his neighbor and in doing so challenges us to see the story of the Good Samaritan in a new light.  His argument is essentially that we avoid our neighbor for the sake of fairy-tale and fancy because our neighbor actually is the greater fairy-tale.  Our lake of ability to confine the life of our neighbor is precisely the reason we would rather go on vacation in some exotic estate.  At least away from what is immediately available to us there is some separation from reality, but if we are to be confronted with those who live within arm’s reach, we must journey into the fairy-tale.

 

All in all, this is a fantastic work of rhetoric!  If for no other reason than to enjoy a brief journey into great rhetoric study you should read this book.  If you’re like me, you’ll laugh your way through most.  If you’re like Chesterton’s critics, you’ll decry me for having recommended such a ridiculous display of pompousness.  Either way, Chesterton sums you up in this work.  

 

Some Thoughts on Avoiding Being a Gossip

I recently preached a sermon at FBC Rosharon in which I listed off guidelines to help determine whether or not what you are doing is gossip.  You see I think a great deal of people have a very difficult time seeing when they are guilty of gossip.  So, one of the people said, “I’d like to have that list.”  I took the list and boiled it down to a few points.  So here you go.

If you’re not sure that what you are doing is gossip, consider the following.

  1. If you cannot support what you are saying or doing with Scripture, don’t do it.
  2. If you would not say it to EVERYONE or are not comfortable with EVERYONE in the Church hearing YOU say it, then it should not be said.  Jesus admonishes you that secrets will one day be revealed completely.  Mathew 10:26 He says, “nothing is covered that will not be revealed!”  This means that those things you don’t want people to know you are saying, are going to come back to haunt you.  Don’t say it.
  3. If it does not build up the person you are speaking to and/or about, it should not be said.  Ephesians 4:29 exhorts, “ Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  If you are saying things that fail to exalt other people or point them to Jesus, then you are gossiping about them.  Don’t say it.
  4. If what you’re saying stirs up dissension between other people or contributes to unresolved controversy, don’t say it.  In Proverbs 16:28, you are called a perverted man if you stir up dissension.  Don’t do it.
  5. Some would argue that they were getting wise council, so here’s a quick test for wise council.  If what you are seeking requires you to share names or specifics that indicate who the person in question is, then you are gossiping.  Don’t do it. 
  6. If what you are saying does not end in good things or does not accomplish a HOLY purpose, don’t say it.  James warns us in James 4:17, “if you see what is good and do not do it, it is sin.”  Do the good that you see and not the evil that you speak.